One of our Culture’s Greatest Mistakes in Valuation: The Negro Leagues

Those who know me realize that I am a big sports fan. My favorite sport to be a fan of is baseball. Negro league history is one of my passions and I actually belong to an organization whose purpose is to recreate the statistics of the Negro Leagues.

My favorite player ever is Joe Black. A great pitcher in 1952 who that year became the first black player to win a world series game and who won Rookie of the Year for the National League. After his playing career, he became a champion of former Negro League players. His short career was one of honor, pride, and gentleness toward others despite the fact he suffered severe discrimination due to the color of his skin.

One of the greatest power hitter ever was Josh Gibson. His record against the highest caliber of Negro League pitching indicates that he would have outslugged any of the Major League players of that era, including Babe Ruth. There is solid evidence that Gibson hit a 580 foot home run in Pittsburgh. That would rank him with Ruth, Mantle and Fox as the players who could hit the ball the furthest. He never played in what we consider the real major leagues.

I think the best baseball played from 1920 – 1950 was in the Negro Leagues. Only the ignorant or those with worse motives insist that Major League Baseball was the best being played in America in the first half of the 20th century. Most knowledgeable experts of both the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball claim that Josh Gibson is the greatest power hitter the game has ever seen. These same experts rate Satchel Paige heads and shoulder above any other pitcher of any era.

What is the point of this rather one-sided conversation? Cultures and societies are not the only ones capable of making huge mistakes in evaluating what has greatest value. My understanding of baseball is that the point is to win. Any owner from 1920 – 1950 could have fielded a team of black future hall of famers who would have won the World Series every year. Hatred, in the form of bigotry and discrimination, kept them from realizing the goal toward which they were working.

How easily I fall into the same trap of allowing other things to derail reaching the goal toward which God has called me.



Great Links for Helping Us Grow

Interested in some good devotional reading or understanding issues facing the IMB right now?  The following three blogs have been very helpful to me and I recommend them highly.

Jason Helmbacher writes the devotional blog, Becoming, out of Immanuel Baptist Church of Sallisaw, Oklahoma.  You can find it here:  http://jbacher.blogspot.com/

Bart Barber of Farmersville, Texas has a great article on Christian unity. Bart's blog is called "Praise God Barebones."  He has a good reason but I will let you find it.  Don’t miss the comments section and discussion between Barber and David Rogers. It is excellent and can be found at this link: http://praisegodbarebones.blogspot.com/

David Rogers is an IMB colleague who lives in Spain. If you want an in-depth viewpoint of mission strategy and the effect of SBC life on missionaries, I highly recommend his blog. His articles on October 1st and 3rd are great discussions about miraculous gifts. You can find David at this link: http://loveeachstone.blogspot.com/


What is Inconvenience Worth?

Email spam is costing me right now. I knew it was but had to count the cost to know exactly how much; so, I let it accumulate for 24 hours, downloaded it and “measured” the cost.

Email Received: 108
Good Email: 8
Spam: 100
Time to Download: 9 minutes (I know, my dial up is really bad)
Time to Download Spam 8 min., 20 sec.
Annual Time Downloading Spam: 3,041 min., 40 sec. or 50 hrs., 41 min., 40 sec.
Cost/minute for local phone call 7 cents per minute(yes, we have to pay when we dial up on the internet)
Estimated cost to Download Spam $212.92
Monthly cost $17.75

Now, this only takes into account my email. Elise is receiving the same amount. So, it would be fair to double the figures above. Let’s round down and say the cost of spam is $35 per month. Also, I am not trying to figure out how much my time is worth to manage the spam. This would be hard to do as some would probably greatly undervalue my hourly worth.

Taking the two minutes it took to figure this out has forced me to ask some questions about email. First, is communication worth the cost of $35 per month worth of spam. The answer: ABSOLUTELY YES! Communicating with my family, my organization, and you is worth a high cost to me.

Would I love to cut the cost of spam to zero? Of course, but that is never going to be the reality of life in this world. Maybe I can upgrade my internet speed someday (not possible now for a variety of reasons) and maybe my email server will get better spam filters. Who knows? I do know that communication is worth it.

It also caused me to think of other “inconveniences” that are worth a high cost. Helping new believers become disciples seems to be very inconvenient. We are working with a friend whose choices boggle the mind. They are their own worst enemy. Sometimes we get frustrated and wonder if the cost is worth it. The answer: ABSOLUTELY YES! I am so thankful for the people who never gave up on me. I did not earn their patience and long suffering but they continued to invest in me and see potential even when none was visible.

Sharing your faith with people can sometimes be a real bummer. Getting laughed at or ridiculed is never enjoyable. Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY YES! Often times those moments are the first time a person hears of God’s love for them. Fruit may not be seen for a long time but it is a step in the right direction.

It is easy to get frustrated when we sense our time or energy is being wasted. I certainly get frustrated with spam. I am learning to count the cost. When I evaluate the spam by the standard of communication, it is worth it and I become much more patient and wise. I even use that “lost” time to get other things done.

When I evaluate the “inconveniences” of disciple making and evangelism by God’s love for people, I also grow much more patient and wise. I am able to accept others where they at and work with them on that basis because that is how God and other believers have dealt with me.


A Challenge, Reports, and Questions

A Challenge: Fifteen minutes after our email beginning the public consumption of our blog a few weeks ago, a friend wrote to congratulate us on beginning the path of better communication. This friend then told me the hard part was just beginning and that he doubted we would have anything of significance to say unless we worked hard and often to say it. Now, this guy is a skeptic on his best days. However, he did lay out a clear challenge.

I do not want to meet his challenge. I do want to increase your love and prayer for the people of Croatia. If I say something significant while accomplishing that, praise the Lord. If that is accomplished but nothing of significance is said, praise the Lord. If something of significance is said but love and prayer for the people of Croatia does not grow, shame on me. I will have failed to meet the goal Elise and I have for this blog.

Reports: First, let me give you a report on answers to prayer. Yesterday, small groups went great for both Elise and I. Plus, I had a divine appointment opportunity around noon and two people heard the good news. I am thankful the Lord brings those opportunities in bunches! Keep asking not only for the divine appointments but for the boldness to take the opportunity. I have already mentioned this but will again, Wednesday was a great day of encouragement and encouraging other brothers and sisters. Thanks for remembering Tomislav and me as we went looking for firewood. Last, a few of you have asked about my health. I have not made any report recently. Last Saturday, I woke up and could tell I was much better. Pneumonia is nasty stuff and very deceptive. I have been weak and still need to rest but am doing a million times better. It is amazing how much strength it takes to cough 10,000 times a day (only a small exaggeration) and how little sleep and rest you get while doing so.

Next issue under reports: my life is full of them! I won’t bore you with the list of reports but would ask you to pray for strength and wisdom to report to my organization and supervisors in such a way that the work is communicated with accuracy and in a manner that causes more people to pray for and love the people of Croatia.

Controversy, Topics and Questions: A few weeks ago, I wrote five men whom I consider to be mentors. They are all older than I am (all retired) and full of godly wisdom.  I asked for advice in dealing with issues of controversy and topics they would like to see addressed and questions they would want answered.  You need to understand that two of these guys are jokers so please take some of the following with a grain of salt.

Controversy: deal with it only when it affects our mission and call; deal with it only in graciousness and kindness.

Topics: keep up the several times a week report on life and ministry here but add two things; first, help them know what they can to help in practical ways and second, help them grow in their understanding of missions.

Questions: they had some good ones that I will try to answer in the days to come but two asked the same question which I will probably never answer, “How do I ever make weight for IMB medical requirements?” That is a summary as one actually said, and I quote, “You’re fat. Do you bribe the doctors when you have your IMB physical?” Now, I was not flattered by their insinuation that I might be a little larger than ideal. I will need to think about how open and vulnerable I want to be before dealing with that question.

Any missions topics you are interested in or questions (not involving pounds) you want answered are welcome. Just email me and I will do my best to respond.



Everything but the Firewood

Yesterday’s journey was very successful. We found wood, could buy it, but have not yet confirmed it has legally been cut (big problem with the police if you transport illegal wood) nor found a truck to load and deliver it. Everything about preparing for winter is complicated.

 Firewood at the Farm.jpg

Tomislav, Duro, and I greatly enjoyed our fellowship together. Checking out the wood available at two locations and negotiating prices was followed by purchasing honey from a man who lives near Duro and a great cup of coffee around Duro’s kitchen table. Duro shared how he came to Christ through experiences during the war and the witness of his family. Someday, with Duro’s permission, I will encourage you with those stories. I hope that for now you can accept it is an amazing story of God’s power and grace.

Tomislav and Duro.jpg 

Petrinja is a town 45 minutes south of the city I live in. It has a small Baptist church which has no pastor at this time. I have been honored to preach there on two occasions. On the way home, Tomislav and I stopped by the home of the head deacon. Miroslav was out of town but his wife hosted us for another great cup of coffee.

I asked how the church was doing. She was beaming. Just this past weekend they baptized eight people! We were able to watch a video of the baptismal service and to encourage our sister in Christ. By the way, their membership increased by 25% last weekend.  Think about that kind of impact in your church.  Thanks for praying.

Today, Elise will be leading her women’s house group and I will be meeting with a group of men this evening. Plus, we are hosting a colleague who has recently moved from Zagreb to Prague, Czech Republic.

Thanks for your love and prayer. We can’t do it without you.